With a 2.5-litre flat-four where a flat-six should be, the new 2019 Porsche 718 Boxster GTS throws up a few surprises in the week Motormouth had to find out how it stacks up to its predecessor
I’ve been wanting to drive the new Porsche Boxster 718 GTS for a while now, purely to find out how well the new turbocharged engine alleviates the sole problem the old Boxster suffered from – a lack of torque. It was a beautifully balanced car, but one that indisputably was more noise than go in the upper rev registers.
So, there I am standing in the basement parking at Porsche Centre Dubai with the key in my hand and the sales executive enquires whether I’ve driven a Porsche before. I nod in the affirmative. I forego the ‘product walkthrough’ and instead jump in the driver’s seat and, boy, is this thing loud on start-up. It’s not a particularly remarkable engine note, but it’s got an industrial appeal to it. It sounds mechanical and, yep, heads will turn every time you turn that key.
It’s off to the office and first impressions are just how much peppier it feels than the car it replaces. Unlike its predecessor, there is loads of torque pretty much throughout the rev range. Nice.
You’ve got to love Porsche when it comes to attention to detail. The cabin is spectacularly put together with high quality materials. Our tester comes with the optional two-tone interior combination of black and red leather and it’s all rather agreeable.
Interior quality notwithstanding, what’s readily apparent is how well it rides. In my opinion, it’s not as brittle as many other convertibles in its class, and decidedly an improvement over the Boxster GTS, sans 718.
Not much is happening today and as I park the car in the evening and step out, the rear engine cover mysteriously pops open. No biggie.
I’ve got a meeting in Abu Dhabi at nine sharp, so it’s an early start. I hate early morning starts. I’d work past midnight rather than get up bright and ruddy early. If coffee doesn’t wake you up, trust me, a Boxster 718 GTS on start-up will do the trick – this thing is properly loud.
On the highway, and the terrible trudge from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, there are few moments of torment through tailgating. I suppose that’s what happens when you drive a Porsche – the Lexus LS430s chart a different course.
For a convertible, wind noise is fairly well contained, and here I should point out that the red fabric top on our tester is also an optional extra. The trip back is equally stress free. It’s quite possibly one of the most well-rounded convertible sports cars around.
I park the car in my basement, step out, and yet again, the rear engine cover pops open. It’s bizarre.
Today, I’m headed to Fujairah and this will be a great opportunity to finally see if Porsche’s wonder car has lost any of its dynamic ability in the new 718 turbocharged guise. The short answer is no. In fact, it’s everything the old Boxster wasn’t. It’s composed and just the sheer level of mechanical grip is astonishing. There is virtually no lean through the corners. A car in this price band has no right to be as agile as supercars for twice the money.
The new 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine makes 365 horsepower and a thumping 430Nm of torque in the PDK version, 10 more than the manual variant. But, you were not going to buy that anyway so that’s academic. Zero to 100km/h is despatched in 4.3 seconds, but trust me it feels quicker. Especially when you engage the Sports Response feature by pressing an innocuous little button on the steering wheel that unleashes the full fury of the engine and the gearbox for 20 seconds. It’s mental.
It’s quite a car, this 718 GTS, if you have just over AED300,000 sloshing about. And that’s not including the optional extras, mind.
It’s a quiet day of running errands and in-town schleps and the 718 Boxster GTS is surprisingly pliant despite being the most hard-core version of Porsche’s mid-engined sports car. On a cruise, this is a quiet, even luxurious car to pootle about in. Disengage Sport mode and glide along with little in the way of engine noise.
I quite like the look of it too. It hasn’t changed much from the previous model obviously, since this is Porsche we’re talking about, but there are tell-tale changes such as the blacked out badges and a strip that runs along the length between the tail lights. It’s got presence.
The engine cover popping open every time I get out of the car, though, that gets a bit tedious.
The 718 Boxster GTS is not a large car at just 4,379mm in length, and the ride height isn’t stupidly low, which means you can use it without sweating, while getting in and out of tight parking spaces. It’s got enough theater and occasion when you need it, but most of the times it is just like driving a normal city car. Well, without the rear seats, or the practicality, but for a sports car, it is not a vehicle that will wear you out with worry and you can use it every day in most urban situations.
That engine cover, however, persists.
OK, I have finally figured it out. It’s the key to this weird behavior from the engine cover. You, see, the key is shaped like a Porsche and the button to open the engine compartment is located right where the rear window would be. So, if you have anything else in your pocket along with the key, say, a phone or a pack of cigarettes, it inadvertently presses on the key and releases the engine cover catch. Not very Porsche, that.
Off to return the car and a quick glance of the spec sheet reveals that this is, obviously, not a cheap car at AED303,200. However, there are 28 optional extras that add another AED67,218 to the list price, bringing the grand total to AED370,418. That said, there are few mid-engined sports cars that can deliver the breadth of abilities that the 718 Boxster GTS does for that money.
Just don’t keep the key in your trouser pocket.